“Sky Stays the Same” by Marsha Smith Janson

Marsha Smith Janson, RN


Coincidentally the summer when the gazelles
at the ecotarium kept jumping the fences
most of my married friends were having affairs.
We think we can but we cannot contain the heart.
We continue to give it our best shot
like the nurse saying roll up your sleeve.
The inoculation is planted but there is no cure
for the who you are and what you want.

Now even my mother seems to have forgotten
the early years when she held me by a window
as it snowed and three deer came out of the woods
to stand blinking and pawing: the way I do
before the mural painted on the building downtown,
Sojourner Truth marching with clouds,
the clouds anonymous in their lab coats.

It’s always the same sky, it’s just the weather
and the seasons that keep changing.
In spring I dust the pollen from my hands,
then, blink, the maples along the river begin to smolder
in their red coronas. Dry days.
I’ve got an unquenchable thirst and can’t sleep
because there’s such a whirring of wings.

Such thievery in the orchard, so many
boxes of fruit hoisted over the back gate
long after the workers have climbed down
from their ladders, the smoke from their tobacco
lingering long after they’ve gone home for the day.

from Rattle #28, Winter 2007

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